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Grade One ’20 Percent’ Time

May 4, 2013

Updated May 6th 2013

Here is one of those posts that has sat in draft form for about 8 months. It’s not because I didn’t want to publish it, it is just the time wasn’t right. Or to be honest, I wasn’t sure it really made sense to me.

Almost everyone has heard of Google’s 20 Percent time.  It’s about tinker time. Time to create, think – a Passion Project some might call it. We do this in grade 1. Actually Id like to think that we create and do this alot. Its pretty funny that the business world is going back to something so basic. A practice that many of us primary school teachers do on a daily basis, allow tinker time.

We don’t have alot of ‘rules’ for our 20 percent time. The only flexible rule is that students have to either share what they make with others (groups, whole class, pairs) OR show another student how they made/created the item and hopefully tell then ‘why’. More often than not, kids make connections with our unit of inquiry. The concepts, central idea. I do not force this though. I don’t want to ‘sneak in some learning goals’ that might kill creativity.

Some examples Ive used with my class use lego to provide solutions to a problem. For example, the problem might be to move something from point A to Point B. The challenge was to build some sort of ‘vehicle’ that could carry the payload of between 10 and 15 pencil crayons. The vehicle had to move the length of our desk table. This was created when we share the pencil crayons as we are always standing up to get the pencil crayons we need at the other end of the table. Could we used another box? Sure. But the kids felt this was a ‘problem’ in the class an thought of a way to resolve it. I did not give them an example and I still believe in this case anyhow giving them a a visual example would have killed some of the creativity. I did however show them this model afterwards.

We have alot of building materials in my class like milk cartons, cereal boxes etc. One challenge was to create something that someone in your house could use. The kids needed to think about what that was, plan how to build it, build it and justify the ‘need’ for it. We had some create items such as a tie holder, name card holder, holder for pins, a few jewelery boxes (complete with jewelry)  and even a fish tank for dad, because he wants to buy one – very cool but Im not sure how practical a cardboard fish tank would last. I still wonder if this child brought it home and tried it out! Great imaginations.

Blooms Digital Taxonomy also plays a role in our thinking. Check out Andrew Churches great wiki here for more details. blooms_500

Our grade 5 teacher passed this TEDX Talk video along about Tinker Time. I am hoping we can do something like this at my school one day.






Here is another great video about Passion Projects by @sherrattsam

Here is a great post by Lisa Thumann @lthumann with more about Google’s 20 percent time and how they’ve implemented it.

In our recent #pypchat on Twitter we also discussed Passion Projects. You can see the archives here.

In the end it about the learning.

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